Preble County CASA celebrates 20 years


By Nathan Hoskins - [email protected]



Ohio CASA Director Doug Stephens was in attendance at the Preble County CASA 20th anniversary celebration, and was one of the key speakers for the event. Stephens congratulated CASA on 20 years.

Ohio CASA Director Doug Stephens was in attendance at the Preble County CASA 20th anniversary celebration, and was one of the key speakers for the event. Stephens congratulated CASA on 20 years.


Starks, Huff and Overmyer pose with Commissioners.


Directors Huff, Warrick, Mullins and Grassman pose with Judge Overmyer.


The Preble County CASA.


Clapp spoke of the meaning of being a CASA volunteer.


Overmyer spoke to the crowd of the importance of CASA.


Starks struggled with emotion when speaking of victim conditions.


EATON — Preble County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) celebrated its 20th anniversary Saturday, Sept. 10, on the courthouse lawn. CASA began in Preble County in 2002, under the leadership of Director Elaine Mullins, the first of four directors over the course of 20 years.

CASA volunteers work directly with children in unsafe and abusive situations, and are described as the “eyes and ears” of the judicial system.

During the celebration event, current CASA Director Debbie Huff welcomed those in attendance and narrated a short testimony from a domestic abuse survivor for those in the audience.

“Without CASA volunteers, the court does not have the entire story. The time that is put in outside the courtroom is all volunteer work that makes a huge difference in the life of a child,” Huff shared. “I believe that is what being a CASA is all about. To help the families, and the child, on their worst days.”

Huff then welcomed Judge Jenifer Overmyer to the podium.

“You should know the CASA program is near and dear to my heart,” said Overmyer, “I moved here in 1994, and took a job right across the line in Richmond as an assistant prosecuting attorney, and started doing Guardian Ad Litem work here.”

Overmyer went on to explain the difference between CASA volunteers and Guardians Ad Litem. “No knock on the Guardians Ad Litem — I was one, they do a great job. But they have a lot of cases, not only Guardian Ad Litem cases, but new attorney cases. They do not spend the time with the kids that the CASAs spend with the kids.”

Overmyer went on to provide a brief background on the history of CASA, and give praise to the CASA volunteers who dedicate so much of their time, emotion and care into each and every case.

“CASA started in Washington state 40 years ago because a judge there was concerned about his ability to make decisions related to the lives of children who had been abused, and or neglected without sufficient information,” Overmyer explained. “I help train the CASAs every year here in Preble County, and I tell them my decisions are only as good as the information I get and thus their role is essential. The CASA volunteers are literally my eyes and ears!”

“We currently have 27 trained CASAs in Preble County, and 17 have active cases. All are rigorously screened, extensively trained and receive continuing education every year. We have 102 open abused, neglected or dependent cases right now. An attorney Guardian Ad Litem or volunteer CASA has to be appointed in these cases. Both advocate for the best interest of the child, but CASAs generally have fewer cases, and thus, generally are able to spend more time on the cases and with the children,” Overmyer continued.

“Sometimes CASAs are the only consistent adult in a child’s life. Last year we paid attorney Guardians Ad Litem over $29,000 and this year we have already paid over $21,000. Thus, there is a financial incentive to utilize CASAs as well,” Overmyer concluded.

Ohio CASA Director Doug Stephens was also in attendance, and was one of the key speakers for the event.

“When Debbie contacted Ohio CASA and asked us to be a part of this – it’s an honor we never pass up,” Stephens said.

CASA Coordinator Tibby Starks and CASA volunteer Kathy Clapp also gave remarks regarding their experiences in the program, and the emotions involved with the process.

After the speakers had finished their statements, Judge Overmyer and Director Huff awarded the previous directors of the program with plaques in recognition of their service and dedication to CASA. The directors in order of succession were Elaine Mullins, Nancy Grassman — who has since passed away, Mary Warrick, and Huff.

Forest Grassman, Nancy’s husband, accepted the plaque on her behalf.

Starks and Huff also surprised Overmyer with a plaque recognizing her contribution to the program, as well as her ongoing support for the CASA volunteers. Awards for all of the attending CASA volunteers were also presented.

Among those in attendance were Commissioners Adam Craft and Rachael Vonderhaar, State Representative Rodney Creech, 12th District Court of Appeals Judge Matthew Byrne, and numerous active and inactive CASA volunteers.

For more information about Preble County CASA, visit prebleohiojuvenileprobate.org.

Ohio CASA Director Doug Stephens was in attendance at the Preble County CASA 20th anniversary celebration, and was one of the key speakers for the event. Stephens congratulated CASA on 20 years.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2022/09/web1_Stephens.jpgOhio CASA Director Doug Stephens was in attendance at the Preble County CASA 20th anniversary celebration, and was one of the key speakers for the event. Stephens congratulated CASA on 20 years.

Starks, Huff and Overmyer pose with Commissioners.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2022/09/web1_CASA-COMM.jpgStarks, Huff and Overmyer pose with Commissioners.

Directors Huff, Warrick, Mullins and Grassman pose with Judge Overmyer.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2022/09/web1_CASA-Directors.jpgDirectors Huff, Warrick, Mullins and Grassman pose with Judge Overmyer.

The Preble County CASA.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2022/09/web1_CASA.jpgThe Preble County CASA.

Clapp spoke of the meaning of being a CASA volunteer.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2022/09/web1_Clapp.jpgClapp spoke of the meaning of being a CASA volunteer.

Overmyer spoke to the crowd of the importance of CASA.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2022/09/web1_Overmyer.jpgOvermyer spoke to the crowd of the importance of CASA.

Starks struggled with emotion when speaking of victim conditions.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2022/09/web1_Starks.jpgStarks struggled with emotion when speaking of victim conditions.

By Nathan Hoskins

[email protected]

Reach Nathan Hoskins at 937-683-4057 and follow on Twitter @NathanHoskins13.

Reach Nathan Hoskins at 937-683-4057 and follow on Twitter @NathanHoskins13.